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had always been, he was sure, her real being, and now she
was merely achieving it in its perfection of negativity and

But once she did say, " Your mother was a beautiful young
girl." When she said that, Percy Mumi, who had never
before realized, actually, that his mother once had been
young, was moved so that tears came to his eyes. His mother
now was not old, but she was ageless, it seemed. A widow,
she ran the farm competently, and prayed much. She was
taciturn and cold, except for those rare moments when, with
a kind of shameless unveiling of the spirit, she tried devour-
ingly and terrifyingly to seize upon her son's love, or at least
to establish some communication with him. At those
moments, embarrassed, he could never respond, and so she
would turn coldly again upon herself; and when he, in turn,
would try to penetrate to her, her withdrawal would be com-
plete. When Miss Sprague spoke, he saw his mother as she
was now, and, on the instant, as she had been, surely, that
summer, young and expectant, poised at the edge of the long
hotel veranda, listening to music or watching the men at
bowls. He felt that he, almost, could look into her eyes as
she stood.

In the thought of his mother, there was pathos; but in
Miss Sprague, none. She lived, in this overheated, motionless
air that reeked of camphor, as in her true medium. This
was her triumph.

After the second visit, during which the conversation waned
to a slow repetition of the details of bis train trip, the weather
in southern Kentucky, and the furnishings of the room
which he had rented, he proposed that he should bring some-
thing to read aloud to her. She said that she would be grate-
ful. When he asked her what he should bring, she replied,
" Anything." He bought a sentimental novel, feeling certain
of his choice. But he had not been reading for ten minutes
before he knew that her attention was wandering. She
peered at this object in the room, and then at that, and
breathed unevenly. He continued to read* for an hour or so.